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Patients at risk at 'unclean' Waterford Regional Hospital by lack of hand washing

Waterford was not alone in criticism as HIQA also released reports for St Michael’s Hospital, Portiuncula Hospital, Louth County Hospital and Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan.

Image: Hand washing via Shutterstock

WATERFORD REGIONAL HOSPITAL has been criticised for hygiene standards and other poor practices by the health watchdog.

However, Waterford was not alone in criticism as the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) also released the hygiene inspection reports for four other hospitals including, St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin; Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway; Louth County Hospital; and Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, Co Meath.

The unannounced inspections assessed “the hygiene as experienced by patients at any given time”.

Waterford Regional Hospital

The emergency department was visited by three authorised people from HIQA on June 25 between 09.15am and 14.30.

They found that the handing washing by staff was extremely low with just five of 23 hand washing opportunities taken by staff. This risked the spread of infection to other patients.

It was found that some staff wore sleeves to their wrists and wrist watches, which prevented adequate hand washing.

Four hand hygiene gel dispenser units in the hospital public corridors on the first floor were empty and the nozzles of some wall mounted hand gels in ED were clogged.

Overall, the authority found that the environment and equipment in areas assessed were generally unclean, placing patients at significant risk. It said there were poor waste management practices at the facility and a patient equipment room was cluttered with numerous items stored directly on the floor.

“We are very disappointed by the results of this inspection and we are trying to remedy it with immediate effect,” managing director Rob Landers told RTÉ’s News at One.

He added the findings were “unacceptable” and said that they will “up the level of instruction” to staff there.

The hospital looks after a population of 500,000 and covers Waterford, south Tipperary, Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny.

Portiuncula Hospital, Co Galway

St Francis’ ward, theƒ Maternity ward andƒ St Clare’s five-day ward were checked by two authorized persons from the authority on July 9 from 9.00am to 13.00.

The authority found there were many improvements since the last HIQA visit on January 9, however, there are still many “unsatisfactory practices that remain non-compliant with the national standards”, such as dust found in all wards, and “sticky” patient equipment.

When it comes to hand hygiene, 25 of 34 hand hygiene opportunities were taken but HIQA said there was room for improvement.

St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire

The emergency department (ED) and the male ward were given a surprise inspection on June 19 between 11.00am and 14.30.

The authority found that while the ED was clean, many of the practices observed were not compliant with best practice and the male ward was unclean and cluttered.

It also found chemicals, clinical waste and sterile equipment were stored in unsecured areas.

Seventeen of 22 hand hygiene opportunities were taken by staff there.

Louth County Hospital

The Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) and theƒ Stepdown Ward were visited on July 1 between 9.00am and 12:30.

The auditors found both wards to be generally unclean. Bed frames were also found to be dirty.

When it came to hand hygiene, the authority observed 24 of the 35 hand hygiene opportunities were taken, but only 20 were observed to comply with best practice hand hygiene technique of HIQA. It was also found that hand hygiene was not embedded at all levels.

Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, Co Meath

The ED and female medical ward were assessed on July 4 between 14.00 and 17.30.

The ED was found to be unclean while the female ward was generally clean with some exceptions. Generally, the report found the hospital failed to protect patients and reduce the spread of infections.

The authority found that less that half all hand washing opportunities were taken – 13 out of a possible 27 times. It also found that some designated hand-wash sinks were unclean.

Read: Maternity unit and patient equipment at Tipperary hospital are unclean>

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Amy Croffey

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